College students, especially females, gain weight their freshman year. Yet, what happens after this first year?
This study’s purposes were to compare changes and rates of change in weight, body mass index (BMI), body composition
(percent body fat, fat mass, fat free mass) and waist circumference between the freshman academic year and the following
summer among female college students. Summer weight change also was compared between those who gained versus
those who lost weight over the academic year. Participants included 237 females recruited at the beginning of the freshman
year. Height and weight were measured using standard anthropometric techniques. Body composition was measured
using bioelectrical impedance analysis; waist circumference was measured using a body scanner. Assessments were performed
during the freshman (beginning and end) and sophomore (beginning) years. Weight gain for the 237 females during
the academic year was 1.4 kg with an average 0.1 kg loss over the summer. Rates of change and increases in weight,
BMI, body composition, and waist circumference were significantly higher over the academic year than the summer.
When only those 162 participants who gained weight over the academic year were considered, academic year weight gain
averaged 2.8 ± 2.3 kg, but only -0.3 ± 1.7 kg were lost over the summer. Weight change was significantly correlated with
waist circumference change. Weight gained by college freshmen over the academic year was not lost over the summer.
Weight gain was accompanied by unhealthy gains in percent body fat, fat mass, and waist circumference.